Why Agile HR?

We have been talking recently about the topic of Agile HR versus that of traditional silo-based HR.

Why Agile HR?

In a nutshell, rapid innovation and nimbleness (adapting quickly) in organizations has become a strategic imperative.

Software companies from Silicon Valley were early adopters of the transformative Agile HR methodology for managing projects.

This Agile methodology is ideal for rapid prototyping, iterative feedback, team-based decisions and cross-functional task force-based sprints. As a result, HR is co-opting both the message and the processes by using agile talent processes to support what the rest of the organization is doing.

Agile HR characteristics

Performance appraisal>>"out" is the traditional practice of annual performance reviews. Cross-functional teams & shorter-term duration projects run by multiple leaders more or less made the practice of performance reviews delivered by a single boss obsolete. They needed MORE feedback, MORE often. Dropping appraisals altogether was certainly not a desired option. Instead, frequent project-by-project replaced annual appraisals or do-nothing. Overall, the focus is on delivering more immediate feedback throughout the year so that teams can become more nimbler, course correct mistakes, improve performance and learn through iteration (note an ongoing dialogue between leadership and associates).

How to get started (if you're not) leveraging pioneering work at Intuit (the QuickBooks people) 

  • Focus on early adopters. Don't waste time initially trying to convert the "negative nellies."
  • Form triple-S teams (small, stable, self-managed), give them ownership and hold them accountable for their commitments.
  • Quickly train all mid-level managers. Agile teams need to be self-managed. 
  • Changing frontline and middle management is hard. These roles evolve to "servant leadership" which is primarily coaching and supporting employees rather than monitoring them.
  • Stay the course.

Source: Harvard Business Review, Mar-Apr, 2018